Author Topic: When a coworker acts like your boss...and isn't  (Read 6292 times)

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finecabernet

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When a coworker acts like your boss...and isn't
« on: September 10, 2011, 09:52:21 PM »
Our manager was on vacation this week, and appointed one of my team members, "Tad," as her point person. Not sure what all this encompassed exactly (she didn't leave a coverage note to the rest of us). This decision mystified me because Tad spends most of his day watching Star Trek or sports at his desk (seriously...others have witnessed it). When he does work, he acts superior about things (he's on the arrogant side). But whatever. I half wondered if she made him her point person because he does so little work. Anyway, this past week with him was just awful. He kept checking up on what I was working on, checking my work and criticizing me in a smarmy "I wouldn't do it that way" kind of way. He interacted with our partner companies, gave out assignments and didn't give clear instructions (until they were dragged out of him, at which time he'd have checked on my work and criticized me for doing it incorrectly). I wanted to curl up into a fetal position by the end of the week. My worry is that I'll get badmouthed with no chance of defending myself or telling my side (I've been in this position before and that's usually how it ends up).

Do I broach the subject with my manager? Tell her only if she asks me? Honestly I just want to leave there and find another job because these kinds of things (when coworkers manuever themselves into a manager's good graces) always end badly (that person looks like they've taken initiative when really they've overstepped their boundaries, and any complaints about it make you seem like a whiner or slacker).

Advice? I want to throw up at the thought of going into work again on Monday.

Lisbeth

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Re: When a coworker acts like your boss...and isn't
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2011, 10:20:36 PM »
I'd document everything and bring it to your manager's attention when she comes back.  Let her know that Tad's "supervision" was hindering your productivity.
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Petticoats

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Re: When a coworker acts like your boss...and isn't
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2011, 10:22:46 PM »
Ugh. I wish I had an answer. The only practical thing that occurs to me is to go immediately to your manager--or, better yet, send an email right now and follow up upon her return--that indicates that you're concerned that there's a communication gap and that you and Tad seem to have been left with different impressions of what the dynamic should be in manager's absence. That might be enough to cover your behind preparatory to your talking to manager directly about Tad's micromanaging vs. your accustomed independence.... if that sounds like an appropriate spin?  Good luck!

Or what Lisbeth said. :)

phred246

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Re: When a coworker acts like your boss...and isn't
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2011, 05:17:29 AM »
Definitely squeal, I mean, talk to your boss about coworkers who order you around without authority. If they get away with it once, they will do it again...and harder!

I have a coworker like that. One time, I got called back into work (15 minute drive) after I had gone home sick, and was on a conference call due to a Major computer outage...he was telling me how to reboot my systems, etc., etc.,  and I told him that I don't report to him, I know how to do my job better than he does, I was not well, so Leave Me Alone And Let Me Work! After things were resolved, I was informed that he had gotten very angry when I said that, but his boss told him to knock it off!
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Steve

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Re: When a coworker acts like your boss...and isn't
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2011, 05:42:37 AM »
Will your manager not ask you how things went during her vacation? If she does: tell her. If she returns and does not ask, then wait about 3 days for her to catch up, and tell her then. But by all means: tell her.



mlkind1789

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Re: When a coworker acts like your boss...and isn't
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2011, 10:08:01 AM »
Oh goodness have I been there.  Many years ago I had a coworker hired in at the same position as me...I know this because my manager told me before the new guy started.

New guy then tried to tell me he was the co-manager to which I replied something along the lines of "uh-huh" and went on with my day.  Then he started trying to tell me how to do my job after I had been there 2 years and had worked my way up from the bottom in that time.  After several occasions of this I sort of snapped and said "Look, I know you aren't the co-manager, I was told before you started that you are the same level as me.  Get off my back and let me do my job."  Not exactly ehell approved, but I plead youth and extreme aggravation.  After that I went to my boss, who trusted me and knew I was good at my job since he was the one who promoted me everytime, and told him "You need to rein him in or I will".  Again, not ehell approved, but in that case, boss and I had that sort of relationship

Bottom line is that you need to let the boss know.

Will your manager not ask you how things went during her vacation? If she does: tell her. If she returns and does not ask, then wait about 3 days for her to catch up, and tell her then. But by all means: tell her.

This is fantastic advice.

Balletmom

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Re: When a coworker acts like your boss...and isn't
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2011, 07:27:34 PM »
Agreed, tell her, absolutely.

Am I the only one seeing Dwight Shrute from "The Office" in real life here?

LifeOnPluto

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Re: When a coworker acts like your boss...and isn't
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2011, 12:01:30 AM »
Sadly, I think it depends on how close your Boss and Tad are. If they are great friends, I don't think telling your boss is going to make much difference.

I once worked in a situation like this. "Melissa" was a co-worker on the same level, and same age as us. However, she was best buddies with the bosses, and would hang out with them on weekends outside of work (even though she was 17, and the bosses were in their 30s, but that's a whole different story).

Of course, the bosses gave "Melissa" de facto power, and allowed her to boss everyone else around, and delegate all the jobs whilst she herself did nothing. Any protests were met with "Just do what Melissa tells you."

I hope your situation isn't as bad as this. However, if it is, I'm afraid there may not be much you can do, in practice.

camlan

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Re: When a coworker acts like your boss...and isn't
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2011, 10:40:47 AM »
I would address the specific problems Tad caused, and avoid any mention of his personality, etc.

So, "Tad would assign me a  task, but didn't give me the complete instructions on how to accomplish it until I was 3/4 of the way done. He checked up on my progress hourly, to the point where the numerous interruptions were causing me to lose time and not finish the job on time. He criticized work that I was doing correctly. In the future, if Tad is to be point person again, can you address these issues so that my productivity is not impaired?"
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finecabernet

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Re: When a coworker acts like your boss...and isn't (Small update post 9)
« Reply #9 on: September 15, 2011, 09:49:50 PM »
Thanks for all of your comments! Tad continued to hoard work and act as "supervisor" even after our manager came back. In a meeting on Tuesday, I expressed my frustration at all communications being addressed only to Tad and manager, and not the whole team. I put it in a professional way, saying "how can I do my job well if I am not being informed about team developments" as opposed to saying "Tad didn't share" or anything like that. To that end manager is trying to improve communications. Yeah! I don't imagine I'm Tad's favorite person but I feel like I was heard.